Harry Kane’s 150th Premier League goal allowed Tottenham to visit the top of the table – for the first time in six years – though once again they left it late.
Just as at Burnley a couple of weeks ago Spurs found it hard to break through an organised defence but found a winner in the last 10 minutes. Kane’s header here was even later in the game than Son Heung-min’s at Turf Moor. Another couple of minutes and West Brom might have been able to claim a valuable and deserved point, but Spurs are gaining a reputation for persevering right to the end and a momentary lapse of defensive concentration cost the home side dear.
Gareth Bale enjoyed a fairly quiet opening on his first Premier League start since his return, though he did pop up in the left-back position to launch the attack that brought Tottenham’s first chance of the game. Bale’s ball set Kane free down the left, and when Tanguy Ndombele switched the ball right to find Son free at the far post it seemed certain the league’s leading scorer would add to his account. Son had so much time he steadied himself and went for placement, only to find Semi Ajayi able to get across to block his eventual shot.
West Brom were competitive in an evenly contested first half, despite the late reshuffle due to Branislav Ivanovic and Matheus Pereira ruled out through testing positive for Covid-19, and could have taken the lead had Karlan Grant been more accurate with a free header from six yards. A few minutes later Eric Dier had to head out from under his own crossbar to prevent Callum Robinson’s cross-shot finding its way into the net, before Bale found himself with a brief shooting chance at the other end but was dispossessed by Dara O’Shea.
The Irish defender opened the second half with a glancing header from Filip Krovinovic’s corner that Hugo Lloris was relieved to see pass just the wrong side of his right-hand upright, before Kane beat Kyle Bartley on the Spurs right wing to send over a cross that Bale could not quite reach. Bale attempted to return the favour when a free-kick when Conor Townsend was penalised for handball just before the hour, but though Kane got his head to the cross he found himself crowded out at the far post.
Sam Johnstone beat away a well-struck shot from Sergio Reguilón as Spurs began to increase their attacking efforts, with a neat touch from Ndombele setting up another shooting chance for Kane and then Son breaking free on the right to send a shot straight at the goalkeeper. Probably the best chance of all fell to newly arrived substitute Giovani Lo Celso after Reguilón had a shot blocked, but the Argentine could not adjust his feet in time and managed to miss the target from the six-yard line. West Brom were being pushed back a little yet had their moments going forward – it took a very good save from Lloris to keep out a goalbound header from Grant after a Krovinovic corner.
It looked as though Spurs would have to settle for a draw when Toby Alderweireld and Carlos Vinícius both had attempts saved in the closing minutes, but Kane was able to provide the winning goal from the simplest of situations. When Matt Doherty sent in a cross from the right with less than two minutes remaining on the clock Kane was able to both stay onside – just – and escape the attentions of Bartley to flick a backwards header over the helpless Johnstone. It was tough on the home side, who were worth at least a point, but Spurs had their reward for persisting right to the end.